If you’re as old as I am, you will remember the song written by Eddie Miller in 1946 that was popularized by Englebert Humperdinck in the 60’s… “Release Me”. However, if you are older, you may be more familiar with songs bearing the same title performed by Wilson Phillips or the Swedish group, Oh Laura. No matter. For my purposes, the tortured lyrics of all of those tunes do not have much bearing on this blog. Here’s what happened this morning that had Opal singing her OWN version.
It was 5 am when Opal gave me my daily wake-up kiss. I stumbled out of bed as I do 365 days a year and proceeded to don my clothes like a robot. We then went outside to give her the opportunity to relieve. The routine drill when we return to our apartment is for me to plug in the coffeemaker and to begin the much-anticipated activity of feeding the girls. Perhaps my zombie-like stupor was more pronounced than usual this morning. I managed to pick up Opal’s dish, go to the cupboard where the rubber tote filled with dog food is located, scoop a mug full of her kibble into the dish, add the warm water, set the dish down on her place mat, and…. walk away in a daze to deal with Lucy’s dietary needs. I gave Lucy her kibble ration in one bowl, a spoon-full of soft cat food in her tiny saucer and fresh water in her dish (all lined up neatly on her Christmas-theme place mat that is identical to Opal’s). Then I thought to myself, ‘ something is wrong here’. Opal was thinking that too. In fact the thought bubble over her head was singing ” Please release me…” Yes, I had forgotten to ‘release’ Opal to her food. There she sat, undoubtedly salivating and praying for me to come to my senses! It might seem harsh to train dogs to wait for permission before approaching their food, however this type of discipline does have its positive results. Dogs, particularly Guide dogs must understand the hierarchy in their ‘pack’. I am the leader of my pack. Opal knows that above all, she can depend on me as her leader, to be in charge, to care for her and to take care of business. (oops, I just squeezed two more references to stale songs; ‘Leader of the Pack’ by The Shangri-Las and “Taking Care of Business” by BTO) The moment I came to my senses and realized that Opal was waiting for me to release her to her food ration, I spoke the words that are always music to her ears…”Good girl, eat your breakfast”. I occasionally use a feeding ‘whistle’ to do the job, but that’s a bit much for my neighbours so early in the morning. You can bet that it doesn’t matter to Opal what means I use to ‘release’ her, as long as I do so eventually.